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Know the Difference Between a Web Scraper and a Web Crawler

Web scraping is easy for some but challenging for others. However, there is another frequently used term — web crawling. You may have heard of these terms being used interchangeably, so it's critical to understand the distinctions between these two vital processes. So let's dig deeper into understanding web crawling and web scraping.

Anj Dela Cruz

by Anj Dela Cruz

Publishing Date: January 26, 2023

What is Web Scraping?

Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites. Businesses, researchers, and individuals commonly use it to gather specific information from the internet. Web scraping can be done manually, but it is often done using specialized software or programming libraries.

Who Prevalently Uses Web Scrapers?

A wide range of individuals and organizations use web scraping. Here are a few examples:

  • Data scientists and analysts use web scraping to gather data for machine learning models, market research, and other data-driven projects.
  • Businesses and e-commerce companies use web scraping to gather information on competitors, prices, and products.
  • Journalists use web scraping to gather information for news articles.
  • Developers use web scraping to gather data for APIs, mobile apps, and other software.
  • Researchers and academics use web scraping to gather data for studies and papers.
  • Activists and citizens use web scraping to gather information on political issues, social movements, and other civic-minded topics.

What are the Common Uses of Web Scraping?

Web scraping can help a business in a variety of ways, including:

Market research - Web scraping can be used to gather information about competitors, market trends, and customer behavior, helping businesses make informed decisions about product development, marketing, and sales strategies.

Price monitoring - Businesses can use web scraping to monitor prices on their website and their competitors. It helps them stay profitable and adjust their pricing strategy as needed.

Lead generation - Web scraping can be used to gather contact information for potential customers, such as email addresses and phone numbers, for targeted marketing campaigns.

Data for Machine Learning and AI - Web scraping can be used to gather data for machine learning and artificial intelligence applications, such as natural language processing, image recognition, and predictive modeling.

Reputation Management - Web scraping can track mentions of a business across the internet and identify any negative or positive sentiment around the brand.

Is Web Scraping Legal?

You may have been concerned about the legalities of web scraping. It is a valid concern and something you should look into. The good news is web scraping is legal. It is quickly becoming an essential tool legitimate businesses use to obtain data.

However, as web scraping has become a go-to tool for many businesses, websites are becoming less suspicious of it and lowering their defenses.

What is Web Crawling?

Web crawling refers to the automated visiting of multiple web pages to discover and extract information. Generally speaking, it encompasses web scraping but includes other activities such as following links, finding new URLs, and indexing the content of the visited pages.

Importance of Web Crawling

Web crawling is vital because it allows automatic collection of information from multiple websites. Such information can then be used for various purposes, such as search engine indexing, data mining, and market research.

Web crawlers are used by a variety of organizations and individuals, including:

Search engine crawlers - Google and Bing use web crawlers to discover new websites and update their indexes with new information.

E-commerce companies - E-commerce companies can use web crawlers to collect pricing and product information from competitor websites.

Market research firms - Market research firms can use web crawlers to collect data on consumer sentiment, industry trends, and other information relevant to their clients.

Government agencies - Government agencies can use web crawlers to monitor and collect data on a wide range of topics, such as public safety, healthcare, and economic activity.

Individuals - Individuals can also use web crawlers for personal projects, such as building a search engine for a specific topic or scraping data for a research paper.

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In addition, web scraping and web crawling can collect data for machine learning and artificial intelligence applications. In 2023, it is expected that web crawler and data scraper tools will continue to be relevant for organizations looking to gain a competitive edge and make informed decisions. If you wish to learn more about data scraping, we have a Scraper API for that.